08 May 2010
I grow Amaranth because it's beautiful in the garden, and undemanding. Amaranth rivals soy in protein content and provides essential amino acids. My seed is from the organic garden of Paul Maschka.
It was one of the staple foodstuffs of the Incas, and it is known as kiwicha in the Andes today. It was also used by the ancient Aztecs, who called it huautli, and other Native America peoples in Mexico to prepare ritual drinks and foods. To this day, amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses or chocolate to make a treat called alegría, or "joy" in Spanish.
From Deborah Madison's Local Flavors I learned that tender amaranth leaves can be used in salad. Larger leaves can be steamed like spinach, and the oxalic acid content is much lower, making it a healthier choice for cooking.